Showing posts from March, 2010

Bullock's Film Leans on The Bland Side

Last week, Sandra Bullock’s Oscar-nominated film The Blind Side was released on DVD. Despite all the negative internet and movie chatter, I finally took the opportunity to check it out. Besides, if it was nominated for Best Picture and Sandra Bullock won an award for Best Actress (and a standing ovation), it couldn’t be that bad. Right?

For those of you who by some impressive media acrobatics are still unaware, The Blind Side is based on a real story about how the Tuohy family took in and adopted an African American teenager named Mike Oher. According to the film, Mike isn’t well educated, but he has defensive instincts, which makes him a natural fit for football. The film is intended as a feel-good family film, spotlighting Sandra Bullock as the feisty Tuohy matriarch, Leigh-Ann.

This would be a fine film if it didn’t toss logic out the window, fail to create any depth, or if it presented anything realistically (I’m sure this is where people will start hitting the ‘back’ button on th…

Film Faves: 2007

The year 2007 was the worst year of the decade for movies.  There.  I said it.  Yes, it was the year that There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, and Atonement all were released.  I understand those are great films; it's not that I hate them or fail to see their greatness.  But they are only three films out of a hundred or so and not exactly movies I'm in a hurry to watch again. 

Unlike 2006 or 2008, 2007 was a year that really lacked excitement.  I'm sorry, but I was never excited about another action epic based on a theme park attraction.  Spider-Man 3 failed to live up to expectations.  I barely remember the Harry Potter film.  And I cared even less about another cash-grab with that green ogre.  Honestly, with the exception of the Harry Potter film, none of these turned out to be very good films, yet they are what audiences payed paid the most money to see.

Even as I look through my dozen picks for my favorite films of the year, I really have a hard time conjuring…

Wimpy Kid is Strong Adaptation

I remember during those final years of grade school being rather disliked for being clumsy and weak. My friend and I were two of those kids who just ended up together because hardly anybody else would give us the time of day. But that didn’t prevent me from occasionally picking on him, as I did the day I pulled his sweats down in fourth grade during a fire drill. That didn’t exactly get me the esteem from my class that I was expecting. The same was true as I entered middle school and suddenly decided to turn coat on my gawky friend in order to improve my chances of making newer, better friends. In short, I acted like a jerk under the pretense that it would improve my standing with others.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the live-action adaptation of the Jeff Kinney book series directed by Thor Freudenthal (Hotel for Dogs), reminded me of that time of my life.

Like A Christmas Story or The Wonder Years, Wimpy Kid follows an imperfect adolescent as he navigates a specific time of his life; in th…

Gervais Almost Gets Away with Lying

I was shocked this morning to learn The Invention of Lying was released on DVD not one but two months ago! So, I’m a bit late to the party here and feel like this could almost be another edition of Remember That Movie. My apologies.

The Invention of Lying is one of those ‘clever’ high-concept films whose premise can be summed up in a few words: in a world where everybody only speaks the truth, one man gains the ability to lie. The film works that premise rather well, but still falls short of brilliance. The Invention of Lying explores what a world without lying would be like: advertising is straight-forward, films are historical readings, dates lack any pretense, and the office environment can be cold and depressing.

The problem that occurred to me almost immediately is the film isn’t very clear about its own rules. It seemed to me that people weren’t simply speaking the truth; they were saying everything that came to mind. And it seems to confuse opinion or faulty memory with lying. T…

Humpday Overcomes Indie Film Fears

“We’re doing this because it scares us more than anything else.”

Ben is married and settling down to domestic life with the possibility of fatherhood on the horizon. Andrew is a traveling loner who lives simply while seeing the world and going wherever he pleases. Ben and Andrew are long-time friends who rarely see each other, but whose friendship is such that it picks right where it left off years before. One night, hours after Ben and his wife Anna pass out from an exhausting day, Andrew shows up. It’s been so long since Ben and Andrew last saw each other that Anna’s never met Andrew. Ben joins Andrew the following night for dinner and while smoking joints and hookahs they come up with an idea for an art project in a local newspaper’s amateur porn festival. The idea: to shoot an art film featuring both heterosexual pals having sex with each other.

Humpday, directed by Lynn Shelton, sounds like one of those fringe art house films a la The Brown Bunny that’s built around a single sexua…

Welcome Back, Oscar? A Look at the 2010 Academy Awards

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I criticized the Academy Awards in analysis and also posted my picks for this year’s honors. As you more than likely already saw in every news outlet on TV or the internet, the Oscars were held Sunday night. I thought it was worth following up on this subject by quickly running through the outcome of each award as it compared to my picks. Perhaps more interestingly, I thought I’d also take a look at this year’s awards and how they followed or diverged from my previous criticisms and open the discussion up to my readers.

Let’s start by reviewing the nine awards of which I posted my picks of the winners and how those picks compare with the outcomes.

Best Visual Effects:      My PickAvatar

I believe this category was populated by only sci-fi films. With its astounding CGI innovation and the occasionally effective 3D camera effects, Avatar was the no-brainer champion here.

Best Original Scre…

Film Faves: 2008

Welcome to the second edition of Film Faves.  This time I look at my favorite films of 2008.

Just as a reminder, this feature is not to be taken as a serious, unbiased statement on movies.  This is a list of the movies I enjoyed most are most likely to watch again or own.  It is a favorites list that will feature my top 12 favorite movies of the year.  Now, withouth further ado:


12. The Wrestler

The second best film of its year – and among the ten greatest of its decade. This was a powerful, moving, and quiet film with one of the best comeback performances ever. I found the story to be equally intriguing, insightful, and amusing. And I loved the performances by Marisa Tomei, Evan Rachel Wood, and Mickey Rourke. The Wrestler is a criminally underappreciated film. For more on my thoughts on this film, go here.

11. Hellboy II: The Golden Army

This film unfortunately got overshadowed by the anticipation and release of The Dark Knight. That’s really too bad, because Hellboy II is a per…

Remember That Movie: An American Werewolf in London

Ok, so imagine you’re a nurse in London. You’ve had three one-night stands and a couple bad relationships. You work for a doctor that’s pleasant enough, but can be a bit arrogant to his patients. One day, a guy comes in with lacerations on his face and chest. The details of his ordeal are a bit mysterious, but the official claim is he was attacked by a serial killer, or something of the sort. He gets treated and seems fine until three months after his arrival he comes into consciousness and soon after he begins talking about being attacked by a wolf. In fact, he’s insistent and bewildered by claims that he was attacked by a man. He’s otherwise cute and charming enough and you get along with him rather well. You even stay by his side to read to him when he’s having nightmares in the middle of the night. Well, one night, imagine you hear him scream and you run into his room where he suddenly kisses you and confesses that he’s a werewolf – that his dead friend visited him and told him so…